Technology, Strategy, and Savings

While Air Force Materiel Command is home to the Air Force’s new technological innovations, the organization has also found new uses for old tools in order to save money and provide strategic benefits for the Air Force’s engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. Lt. Gen. Andrew Busch, AFMC vice commander, told AFA’s Pacific Air & Space Symposium in Los Angeles on Nov. 22 that the Air Force gained a great deal of knowledge from its X-51A Waverider demonstration, which achieved the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight in history and will inform efforts to adapt the technology to future weapon systems. Busch also highlighted the Surfing Aircraft Vortices for Energy, or $AVE, initiative that tested flying C-17s in a formation modeled after bird patterns. The Air Force recorded fuel burn reductions greater than eight percent in the trailing aircraft in the formation, said Busch. When looking at the demands placed on mobility in the Asia-Pacific, the ability to take advantage of such savings relative to the minimal cost of the software modifications to fly in these patterns is a great opportunity.